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From wedding planning advice and articles to pulling back the curtain on how ByChenai Events are put together, the Blog is an invaluable source of inspiration for those on their wedding planning journey as well as those who love to read about the art of celebration.

meet chenai

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As an event planner focusing mostly on luxury weddings, I find when answering queries from potential clients that the same ones always come up , one being “what will it be like to work with you”. Now every planner has their own way, people have a perception that we are all clipboard wielding, blazer wearing and ear piece having characters like the movies portray . Whilst there are certain things you can expect from all of us in terms of what we should be able to help you with, how I support my clients on their journey is very much through open, honest communication and collaboration amongst other things. It’s easy for me to do the sales spin but what I thought would be of more value was to get a REAL ByChenai client to tell you about their wedding planning journey working with me. This first blog is an introduction to this client and some detail on how we ended up working together. It’s very important for me that I feel a good fit with my clients and vice versa, which is why working with this couple is such a joy.Introducing Jacinta & Jeffrey These two London based professionals have their wedding set for December this year at a venue in Essex (more will be revealed later) I’ve asked Jacinta or Jass as she prefers , to talk about their relationship, what led her to me and each blog going forward will talk about where we are in their wedding planning journey.

Please give the readers some background on you and Jeff: Jeffrey and I met in 2017 at his sisters birthday party. We didn’t actually speak to each other during the celebration, it was only at the very end that we said our first hello, established that we had taken a liking to each other and went on to exchange numbers. I later learned that he had seen me earlier on that evening and thought I was cute (Yaay). The moment I knew I fancied Jeffrey was when he was posing with the birthday girl (his sister) and I joined in with everybody who was taking pictures of the sibling-love moment. It was then I thought wow, he’s handsome. it didn’t once cross my mind that he had seen me out of all the other girls that were there that night, but it turns out he had!

We haven’t stopped talking since the day that we met, which again surprised me as I had found that consistency and intentional communication on the dating scene was a real struggle. Since meeting we have done a fair bit of travelling together. So far our favourite destinations have been Santorini & Barbados! Travelling together has helped us really get to know each other and we feel have us the opportunity to see if this relationship was something we could see ourselves long-term.

When did Jeff propose and how did he do it?Jeffrey proposed on the 23rd of March 2019, which was a few days after our 2 year anniversary. He planned a lovely day which consisted of a 5 course vegan dining experience at Vanilla black. I then was told we were heading to an art exhibition at a new gallery that had opened, unbeknown to me this was a little white lie to get us to St. Dunstan in the East garden, a location Jeffrey and our wonderful photographer had picked weeks prior. In this beautiful garden is where he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! I laughed so much because I was so nervous and honestly could not process it until later that evening where Jeffrey had arranged for my family and closest friends to toast to our engagement. It was when I walked in and saw everybody who had been in on it that I burst into tears and it finally sunk in!

Photos by Ben Achana PhotographyAbout the wedding….When did you start thinking about the wedding/agree budget etc?Not too long after the engagement, we agreed on a budget after we had viewed and set our hearts on our venue. Our rationale for this was we wanted to make sure the budget was built after one of the biggest costs had been factored in. We didn’t want our budget to restrict the type of venue we had, but of course we did have an ideal number in mind of what we would be willing to spend. Did you know straight away you would want a planner?Nope. Initially I was going to plan the wedding with just the help of a few friends who have always been great are organising events and use blogs and tips found on well known wedding blogs and real brides YouTube videos. However, once we had started the process of venue hunting and reaching out to potential vendors, the reality of how much admin management comes with wedding planning, got very real. With both Jeffrey and I’s busy schedules (work, being in the middle of buying a flat and social commitments) we decided to get an expert to come alongside and help us bring our big day together. We also both really wanted to keep stress levels down and enjoy the journey to “I do”. And what better way to do that than patterning with an awesome wedding planner?! Did you know anything about how wedding planners worked or what services they provided?Somewhat. I have a few friends who have recently started growing their event planning businesses and have planned a few big and small weddings. So from casual conversations with them I learnt a few things, however, I found that each service (dependent on the wedding planner themselves) differed. I have always thought and have now found out that wedding planning is a very personal service offered and a genuine connection between the couple and the wedding planner needs to be there for it to really work and essentially bring visions to life. What if anything/had you done so far in terms of arrangements?Before partnering with Chenai, we had only agreed on a date for the big day and had confirmed our venue. How did you find ByChenai?On Instagram, through a wonderful sponsored post that popped up on my timeline! What was the process like of booking her , what made you want to go with her?Once I saw her post, something about her caption completely resonated with me. It had such a personal tone, it was passion filled, yet still came incredibly professional. So, I decided to slide into the DM’s and enquire about her services. I received a response back in less than an hour (her work ethic is admirable!) and she let me know the services she offers, how shes works with her clients and proposed an initial consultation call. The call was great, Chenai explained everything in detail and we had all our burning questions answered. We immediately felt like we were in safe hands, there was a great rapport between Chenai, Jeffrey and I. It turned out to be a no brainer for us, so very soon after the call we emailed Chenai to let her know we would love to move forward with her and she expressed the same! A contract with t’s and c’s were sent over on the next working day with clear details of costings also and the rest is history. And there you have it. Please come back for the next blog where Jass talks to you about the vision for their wedding AND her wedding dress appointments and purchases at The Wedding Gallery & Andrea Hawkes

What it’s like to work with a wedding planner: from a real ByChenai client

January 26, 2020

Behind the Scenes

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As a UK Luxury wedding planner and lover of beautiful spaces , I’ve put together a list of luxury wedding venues that satisfies the tastes and requirements of couples whose styles vary from castle grandeur to classic stately home, hotel chic to beautiful barn. There is so much to consider when hiring a venue, I’d like this list to be a starting point to show you what is in UK luxury wedding market.

1. Sezincote House

Where : The Cotswolds
Great for : Exclusive hire, large numbers (240) and decent finish time (12.30pm).Sezincote can host civil ceremonies of 70 and 240 in the Orangery ,receptions are held in a marquee on the glorious lawns of the Persian Gardens. To me , luxury isn’t purely ostentation it is defined as a state of great comfort or elegance. Sezincote House has plenty of this and the exclusivity to boot. Sezincote only hosts 6 weddings a year this would be perfect choice to hold your showstopping luxury marquee wedding.
Hire cost: £8750 for exclusive use of he venue but this does not include Marquee hire costs, catering and admin fee of £250.
http://www.sezincote.co.uk

2. The Ned

Where: London (City)
Great for: Chic , city hotel vibes. Created by the forces behind the Soho House & Co , The Ned is a hotel, club and collection of restaurants in the City of London. You can as easily host a luxe, elegant intimate wedding for 30 guests or a larger reception for up to 200. The Ned is licensed for marriages so you can host both ceremony and reception here should you choose.
Hire cost: Starting from £7500 weekday and £8500 at the weekend. www.thened.com

3. Aynhoe Park

Photos courtesy of Gyan Gurung https://gyangurung.com
Where: Northamptonshire /Oxfordshire border
Great for: Exclusive hire, quirky and unique decor , Capability Brown designed grounds and creative possibilities abound. You will be blown away by the taxidermy, art pieces and collectables as well as the the Orangery with it’s high ceilings, big windows that offer lots of natural light, the giant disco balls and the stone masonry. I could go on and on but ther are so many ways in which this venue has been styled for weddings and parties it truly is one of he most versatile and interesting spaces out there for UK luxury wedding venues.
Hire Cost: Exclusive hire midweek 1 night stay from £20,500, Weekend wedding hire from £42,500.
https://aynhoepark.co.uk/

4. Cliveden House

Where: Berkshire
Great for: Iconic with a capital I. Decadent celebration has long been linked with this house that has hosted royalty (Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle famously spent the eve of her wedding night here) to Britain’s most expensive wedding . The opportunities for what you can do at this venue are endless, from quiet timeless elegance with as few guests as 20 to over the top production if your budget allows. https://www.clivedenhouse.co.uk/

5. Hales Hall – The Great Barn

Where: Norfolk
Great for: Stylish barn wedding set in gorgeous grounds.The Great Barn with its imposing ‘queen post’ roof is the largest brick-built barn in the country, has 180 ‘loop-hole’ windows and can comfortably seat up to 200 + guests . It comes complete with a fully-licensed bar, integrated lighting and sound system, 4-metre projection screen, underfloor heating and a Gallery upstairs, boasting stunning views across the fields.
Hire Cost: Summer 2020 weekend weddings at Hales Hall are from £15,500, which includes exclusive hire of The Great Barn and luxury accommodation for 25+ guests for the whole weekend. Mid-week and off-peak weekend weddings start from £4,800 for the hire of The Great Barn, The Hall starts from £1,750 and Mid-week and off-peak weekend hire of The Cottage, The Gatehouse and The Garden Rooms starts from £500.
https://haleshall.com/

6. Broughton Hall

Where: Skipton, North Yorkshire
Great for: Absolutely spoilt for choice with the variety of spaces on this sensational estate. From the contemporary Garden Venue for hosting a party of up to 120, to the Eden ‘Party House’ with panoramic views of the stunning Yorskshire Dales countryside , if you fancy a marquee wedding , the house can have a marquee within it’s grounds.
Hire Cost: As there are a variety of spaces on the estate and it also being available to hire exclusively, it is best to enquire directly with venue based on what your your requirements are.
https://www.broughtonhall.co.uk

7. Lime Wood Hotel

Where: New Forest. Hampshire
Great For: Laid back luxury in the heart of the New forest. This hotel has been included in cool hotel guides from The Times to Mr & Mrs Smith. Available as an exclusive use venue with 33 bedrooms included, Lime Wood is licensed for up to 110 guests for a Ceremony and you can host up to 80 guests for your Wedding Breakfast, without a marquee extension and up to 130 guests for your Wedding Breakfast with a marquee extension (additional costs apply for marquee).
Hire Cost: £39000 inc VAT , accommodation, catering, full run of the house and grounds for you and your guests (Based on 66 guests , additional charges for making those numbers up to 130) https://www.limewoodhotel.co.uk/

8 . Kew Gardens

Photos courtesy of Gyan Gurung https://gyangurung.com/
Where: Richmond, London.
Great for: The splendour of the Botanic Garden surroundings and classic architecture .Kew is a very versatile venue offering spaces for weddings of varying size and style. As the grounds are open to the public until a certain time, this is venue where you will need all the help you can get to make your wedding work if you are using more than one of their spaces, because time (to set up etc) is limited and strictly adhered to here. Fortunately for you the team at Kew are brilliant at what they do and are adept at ensuring couples have all the support hey need on the day. Hiring a wedding planner is a good idea if you are having multiple venue use and want to style it out. ByChenai is in the throws of planning an October wedding here so keep your eyes peeled on the blog for that one!
Hire Cost: Fees for a Classic Wedding as an example. (up to 200 guests, ceremony drinks reception and dinner /dancing in the Orangery) Monday to Thursday: £8,500 + VAT (except bank holidays) Friday: £9,500 + VAT (except bank holidays) Saturday & Sunday: £11,500 + VAT. https://www.kew.org/venue-hire

9. The Victoria & Albert Museum ( The V& A)

Where: South Kensington, London
Great for: WOW factor reception parties (the venue does not have a marriage licence as yet) Ever since SATC where Carrie (almost) was married in the New York Public library, I developed an affinity to listed and heritage buildings in our great city so a V&A luxury wedding is definitely on my personal wish list. I mean consider where you would be, an iconic, unique historical building and if the weather is behaving, hosting a drinks reception in the John Madejski garden.
Hire cost: There are a surprising number of option for spaces as well as timescales for the duration of your event so costs are varying. https://www.vam.ac.uk

10. The Savoy

Where : London
Great for: The glamour, the glamour, the glamour. Long renowned for its elegant parties, this has to be my personal favourite of the glamorous London hotels of this kind of pedigree. Boasting sensational views from your bridal suite to the grand Lancaster ballroom, the largest of the rooms in the hotel, that can host your fabulous reception, you really can marry your personal style with that of the grandeur of the spaces. The beauty of the Savoy is that they cater to luxury weddings of varying sizes , so if an intimate affair is more your street, keep The Savoy on your shortlist. The Savoy’s multi cultural credentials are strong, catering to luxury Asian and luxury African weddings amongst others, with chefs who are trained in a variety of cuisines.
Pricing: Enquire directly based on size and scale of your wedding. https://www.thesavoylondon.com/savoy-weddings/

This list is by no means exhaustive and I am going to follow with another collection however you are probably one of the many at the start of their planning journey and wondering what to do next, I’d say create your shortlist and arrange a visit ofcourse. Alternatively get in touch with Chenai for more information and advice on how to plan your UK luxury wedding kanjani@bychenai.com

*Pricing quoted is valid as at 6th January 2020
*Image source Pinterest unless otherwise stated

TOP UK LUXURY WEDDING VENUES 2020

January 6, 2020

Inspiration

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This one is an essential read friends. ESSENTIAL. Wedding season is upon us and in this blog post I give you the definitive guide to good wedding guest etiquette. I’m going to start with what I’ve observed to be the most common irritations caused by Wedding Guests and what you shouldn’t do

  • Don’t steal the couple’s thunder. You’ve been invited because the couple care about you and want you to share in THEIR special day. Avoid unplanned and unsanctioned speeches or ‘performances’. Unless you’ve been asked to contribute, don’t think you can rock the mic because you’ve had a few glasses of fizz and are feeling extra confident. I personally feel proposals at someone’s wedding are a HUGE no no. It speaks to a lack of creativity that you would choose someone else’s special day to propose to your partner. Unless ok’d by the bride & groom , but even then….It’s a no from me.
  • Don’t wear white. I know of late we’ve certainly seen a trend for brides or grooms to have their bridal parties in all white also which can be really impactful. The age old question about whether it’s ok to wear white however, still remains. My guidance is to err on the side of tradition and just don’t do it . Don’t do it especially if the dress you want to wear could be considered remotely ‘bridal’ . To add to this, if a couple specifies a dress code, do your best to stick to it . (My two absolute pet peeves are jeans at a wedding (day guest) and flip flops at a non beach wedding. Get out of here!)
Illustration by Alexandra New
  • Don’t challenge invite decisions. If you’ve been invited to the reception only for example, it’s really not ok to send a text asking why you didn’t make the cut for the full day. Similarly if a couple request no children at their wedding, respect this. Don’t try to negotiate or guilt trip. Suck it up, make your childcare arrangements then go and have a great time. Often, these decisions aren’t personal and based purely on finances , venue availability, venue restrictions and the prioritisation of close family etc. Making someone else’s wedding about you and your desires, is a huge irritation.
  • Don’t be a badly behaved guest on the day – I’ve personally witnessed some outrageous behaviour at weddings that has caused the breakdown of relationships as a result. Remember you are a guest, behave how you would at your friend or family’s home. There’s nothing wrong with having a few tequilas and a spin on the dance floor with Uncle Rupert but keep your clothes on and your mouth shut when you are boozed.
  • Don’t bring extra people to the wedding. Some of you will be perplexed by this. Stick with me. This is a common occurrence in some cultures where parents and family members play a big role in the wedding preparations and planning. The guest lists get larger and the invitations become more informal to the point where a table plan is used as a guide rather than an exact representation of what will happen on the day. I’m from Zimbabwe and my close friend actually had a ‘just in case’ table put at the back of her hotel ballroom to account for this. Low and behold, some distant relatives turned up who had been informally invited by her parents. True story.
  • Don’t challenge meal options. Allergies and medical conditions ofcourse must be taken into consideration seriously and most people will do their very best to accommodate those affected. It isn’t always possible and affordable to have multiple meal options just because you don’t like something. Most venues and caterers include meat, vegetarian and vegan but beyond this , try not to impose your individual meal requirements on the couple.

Finally , a really big one for me …

  • Don’t accept an invitation and just fail to turn up. That’s the worst. The actual worst.

WEDDING GUEST ETIQUETTE

August 13, 2019

Wedding Planning Advice

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1. Take time to really enjoy it.

Share the news, bore your best gals/guys with the proposal story. They love you so they too will share in your joy. Throw a party! (Ok so this isn’t necessary at all but I love any excuse to do so ) ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

2. Don’t rush into major decision making about the wedding.

You will be bombarded with well meaning offers of help and advice, news articles and magazines telling you what you should be buying etc. Again take time to distil some ideas, get inspired and start thinking about what kind of day you want.

3. For crying out loud don’t go on a dumb diet.

Don’t do it. Wellness is important, yes, so keep going to your classes and training if that’s what you love, eat well, prioritise rest and quality sleep but the last thing you need is unnecessary pressure to fit into an ideal that may not be right for you. And to invite insecurity and self doubt during what should be an awesome and exciting time. ⠀

4. Ask for help.

Once you’re over the initial excitement and have had time to think about a date for your wedding, where you might want it to be etc, hire a wedding planner. I am here to take care of the logistics and help you have the day you want your way. If you don’t think that’s right for you, asking those closest to you to help with tasks to make the wedding planning journey smooth sailing, is a must.

NEWLY ENGAGED ? These are the 4 things you must do first.

January 8, 2019

Wedding Planning Advice

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I spend alot of time thinking up wonderful ways to give the best advice when it comes to wedding planning. I recently shared some great tips with Award Winning wedding photographer Laura Babb , who is also founder of SNAP Photo festival. This piece was centred around the things you should consider in order to maximise the resources you have available to you when planning a wedding specifically.

1. Be clear on your vision and priorities for your the day and stick to this!

Having meaningful and honest conversations with your partner about what you want the look and feel to be , will guide you towards making the right decisions about what to wear , how you want your ceremony and receptions to look and what kind of experience you want to provide for your guests.

Real life couple and favourite clients. Photo by Tom Weller


2. Once you’ve decided what your priorities are, apportian money in your budget accordingly.

If you want to have a great food , drink and entertainment experience and aren’t too concerned with heavy flora or decor styling, move that cash money to the ‘entertainment ‘section of your spreadsheet knowing that you will get the band/Dj and catering you really want.

3. Don’t spend on small (especially disposable) decor items.

Pinterest is a wonderful tool but also a curse to the ‘about to be wed.’ The temptation to want to fill your wedding spaces with ALL the DIY trends often proves too much for some. As a stylist I always seek to create a focal styling point, a statement piece that will draw the eyes of the guests straight away. Spend more on your floral arrangements which can elevate a room so beautifully without the need for too many other ‘bits’. If flowers are not your bag, then go wild with lighting or a ribbon canopy but don’t try and make a multitude of party favours or table decor knick knacks which guests may not really pay attention to and will end up being waste.

4. Use your network.

I mean this literally. Identify friends and family who have talents and skills which you can use in your planning and ask for their help. This doesn’t mean you can assume you will get freebies across the board , unless they specifically offer it to you as a gift, don’t look horrified when they give you a price (with family discount). However, the obvious benefit here, is that if you have a cake baker, hairstylist, makeup artist etc in your close friend or family circle- you can really save on these often major costs.

5. Hire a professional wedding and event planner.

‘ Wait a minute, that’s just spending more money isn’t it?’ . Well, their job is to deliver your vision within your budget, giving you , your time back to focus on your life, relationships and work. Time is money. Many couples to be don’t feel comfortable relinquishing control in this way granted, but for those who are time poor or live in a different country to where they will be married etc this makes good sense. As professionals, planners and stylists won’t have the same level of emotional attachment which often leads couples to make allowances for things not accounted for in their initial plans, only to find their budgets busted by more than a few hundred pounds. A good planner will guide you in all the above, a great planner will do their utmost to ensure that ‘sticking to the budget’ doesn’t feel like a chore and will always manage your expectations with honesty.

Ways to maximise your wedding budget

February 4, 2018

Wedding Planning Advice

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